“Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, films, television, and other public media of communication.”
1. In the 12 & 12, on page 181, in the second paragraph, the first sentence says:
“Let’s see how these two contrasting ideas—attraction and promotion—work out.”
Skipping down to the next paragraph, in the middle of the third line, it says:
“Obviously, A.A. had to be publicized somehow, so we resorted to the idea that it would be far better to let our friends do this for us.”
2. What do they mean by attraction rather than promotion? When Avis ran advertisements saying that they try harder, that’s promotion. When one beer company says that their beer tastes better than any other, that’s promotion. When one political party says that they have a better plan than the other party, that’s promotion.
3. One of A.A.’s most effective commercials is a classic one. It was a very simple spot. It simply had four words. “Alcoholics Anonymous—It works.” It simply let people know that the program exists and that it works.
4. It didn’t compare or try to compete. It didn’t say that we’re better than this program or we’re better than that program. That’s the difference between attraction and promotion.
5. Attraction rather than promotion doesn’t mean that we can’t tell our friends and family that we’re in program. It doesn’t mean that we can’t talk to someone who’s hurting and share that “I worked the program, and it has helped me. Please let me share with you because that will help me even more.” And then hope that maybe they’ll be attracted by what they hear. That’s attraction.
6. The other aspect of Tradition Eleven is personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, films, television, and other public media of communication. It does not say personal anonymity at the level of the meetings or with my next door neighbor and my friends. This tradition was designed so that no one would become a defacto spokesperson for the fellowship.
7. In the 12 & 12, on page 182, the first full paragraph says:
“In the beginning, the press could not understand our refusal of all personal publicity. They were genuinely baffled by our insistence upon anonymity. Then they got the point. Here was something rare in the world—a society which said it wished to publicize its principles and its work, but not its individual members.”
8. Now what about personal anonymity at the level of press, radio films, television, and other public media of communication.
9. In Dr. Bob and the Good Oldtimers, on page 264, starting with the third full paragraph, it says:
“Warren recalled, ‘He [Dr. Bob] said there were two ways to break the anonymity Tradition: (1) by giving your name at the public level of press or radio; (2) by being so anonymous that you can’t be reached by other drunks.’
“In an article in the February 1969 Grapevine, D.S. of San Mateo, California, wrote that Dr. Bob commented on the Eleventh Tradition as follows:
“‘Since our Tradition of anonymity designates the exact level where the line should be held, it must be obvious to everyone who can read and understand the English language that to maintain anonymity at any other level is definitely a violation of this Tradition.
“‘The A.A. who hides his identity from his fellow A.A. by using only a given name violates the Tradition just as much as the A.A. who permits his name to appear in the press in connection with matters pertaining to A.A.
“‘The former is maintaining his anonymity above the level of press, radio, and films, and the latter is maintaining his anonymity below the level of press, radio, and films—whereas the Tradition states that we should maintain our anonymity at the level of press, radio, and films.’”
10. The use of full names among ourselves or at meetings is not a violation of this Tradition. We can use our full names except at the level of press, radio, films, television, and other public media of communication. This prohibition was simply designed to stop individuals from becoming defacto spokespersons for the fellowship. The problem is that it has been carried to an extreme that was never intended.
11. In the A.A. pamphlet named 44 Questions, currently available through A.A., on page 32, the last paragraph states:
“It should also be noted that within A.A., at A.A. meetings and among themselves, A.A. members are not anonymous.”
12. Unfortunately, that’s not necessarily how this Tradition is practiced at many meetings.
13. According to Bill’s wife, Lois, Bill spoke at a meeting in Little Rock, Arkansas that carried anonymity to such an extreme that the leader of the meeting spoke from behind a curtain so that the rest of the group could not see who was leading! Bill spoke from an open platform.
14. We wish to adhere to the sentiments expressed in an article by Bill Wilson, published in the Grapevine. He wrote.
“In the spiritual sense, anonymity amounts to the renunciation of personal prestige as an instrument of general policy. I am confident that we shall do well to preserve this powerful principle. That we should resolve never to let go of it. Now what about its application? Since we advertise anonymity to every newcomer, we ought, of course, to preserve a newcomers anonymity so long as he wishes it preserved because when he read our publicity and came to us, we contracted to do exactly that. And even if he wants to come in under an assumed name, we should assure him he can. If he wishes us to refrain from discussing his case with anyone, even other A.A. members, we ought to respect that wish too. While most newcomers do not care a rap who knows about their alcoholism, there are others who care very much. Let us guard them in every way until they get over that feeling. In most places but not all it is customary for A.A.’s to use their own names when speaking before public or semi-public gatherings. This is done to impress audiences that we no longer fear the stigma of alcoholism. If however, newspaper reporters are present they are earnestly requested not to use the names of the alcoholic speakers on the program. This preserves the principle of anonymity so far as the general public is concerned and at the same time represents us as a group who no longer fear to let our friends know that we have been very sick people. Great modesty and humility are needed by every A.A. for his own permanent recovery. If these virtues are such vital needs to the individual so they must be to A.A. as a whole. This principle of anonymity before the general public can if we take it seriously enough guarantee the anonymous movement these sterling attributes forever. Our public relations policy should mainly rest upon the principle of attraction and seldom, if ever, upon promotion.”
15. Now, the idea of not using our full names has taken on a different dimension. And that is discussed in the Twelfth Tradition.
Please use R.A.'s Questions and Answers Forum to ask any questions or make any comments about any of this.